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Category: Book

The Aspern Papers

Denise Hanrahan Wells looks at one of Henry James’ best-known works. What does a Henry James novella and Percy Bysshe Shelley have in common?  Well, an anecdote related to the latter inspired the former.  Whilst staying with friends in Florence during 1887, Henry James recorded in his Notebooks a story he had heard concerning Claire… Read More

Lord Byron

2024 marks the 200th anniversary of poet Lord Byron’s death. Sally Minogue looks at his writing and his life, and the age-old question as to whether we can separate the two. It’s difficult to write about George Gordon, Lord Byron, without referring to the soubriquet ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, so let’s get that… Read More

Book of the Week: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is the classic beauty and the beast tale written by Victor Hugo, the author of that other enduring tale of passion and tragedy, Les Miserables. Hugo, (1802 -1885) was a prolific novelist poet, playwright and politician. He became one of the masters of French romanticism, a literary movement that placed emphasis… Read More

Dylan Thomas, Taylor Swift, and ‘Tortured Poets’

On International Dylan Thomas Day, and as Taylor Swift name-checks Dylan Thomas on her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, Sally Minogue looks at Thomas’s cultural power and the long-standing relationship between poetry and song. ‘Swifties’ (my own fifteen-year-old great-niece numbered amongst them) adore Taylor Swift. It’s no ordinary liking for your average pop star;… Read More

Book of the Week: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published but second written novel. Denis Hanrahan Wells takes up the story. She initially began writing it at the age of nineteen under the title ‘Elinor and Marianne’ as an epistolary novel, a form which was very popular at this time. She had begun the novel shortly after… Read More

‘Avay vith melincholly’: The Story Behind ‘The Pickwick Papers’

Stephen Carver rediscovers the pleasures of reading Dickens’ first novel. The Pickwick Papers Dickens had only just celebrated his 24th birthday when the publisher Willian Hall paid a call on him at his lodgings in Furnival’s Inn to offer him a writing contract. It was early February, 1836, and Dickens’ collected Sketches by ‘Boz’ had… Read More

Elizabeth Gaskell and ‘Wives and Daughters’

Denise Hanrahan Wells looks at Elizabeth Gaskell’s final novel  Elizabeth Gaskell died in 1865 leaving behind a wide range of works – novels, novellas, short stories, poetry and non-fiction.  Her final novel, Wives and Daughters lay unfinished, just shy of the final chapter or so.  There is some common ground here between Elizabeth Gaskell and… Read More

The Japanese Macbeth

Dr Stephen Carver looks at one of the most memorable adaptations of Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 film Kumonosu-jō, best known as Throne of Blood. The Japanese Macbeth Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s shortest tragedies, over a thousand lines fewer than both King Lear and Othello, and about half the size of Hamlet. Some literary historians go as far as to argue, in fact, that we… Read More

Book of the Week: The Brothers Karamazov

After an insomniac encounter with a radio adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov, Sally Minogue revisits Fyodor Dostoevsky’s last novel. I’ve always had trouble sleeping; it’s part of my life. I used to listen to the World Service which gave a non-Anglocentric corrective to the standard news, but eventually the reporting of everyday horrors there became… Read More